Word Play – Unleash Your Inner Writing Child

Think back. Waaaay back, to when you first decided you wanted to write. You sat down, maybe at a computer, maybe with a pen and napkin, or even (in my case) on the back of a motorcycle, and wove a story in your head. Remember how excited you were? Everything seemed possible. You had the time to play. Play with plots, characters, words.


It was summer vacation for that little kid who still lived in your brain. Remember? If you wrote that story, I’ll bet you had a ball.

Then, reality hit. You decided you wanted the world to read your story. Whether you chose NY publishing, small press,  or self-publishing, the world now intruded on that playground.

NY or Small Press? You had to get a query together, get savvy on the market, agents, etiquette. You got requests! Or not. You wait. You got an agent! Then you’re on submission, and wait some more. You sold! You wait some more. You have deadlines. Revisions. Deadlines.

Self-publish? Even more homework. You need to learn copyrights, publishing options, book cover design, social media, book bloggers, Amazon, Smashwords, etc., etc. And then you wait. Somewhere in all that, you lost the fun.

What happened? Summer vacation was over. Writing became


And that little kid inside that loved the stories? The one who played with that book? He/she doesn’t want a job. They want to have fun.  So they do what kids do – they sulk.

I think this is why many writers give it up. They either quit writing, or only write to please that little kid in their head.

But I wanted both. I’ve always been a ‘cake and eat it too’ kinda person, and I’ll bet you are too. If you want to write AND sell, you have to let that little guy play.

I’ve found a way to relax and allow that little kid to have fun – tap back into my love of writing. I play with the words.

I’m endlessly fascinated with the English language. I love playing with the subtle shading of words – it’s like letting that little kid loose with tempura finger paints. Every single day I write, I have the thesaurus open on my browser bar (One Look Thesaurus ROCKS!)

I use it to find the perfectly shaded word. Like yesterday, I was trying to describe how a grief-stricken heart feels. Of course, the first word I come up with is an everyday word; a black-and-white word.  SAD. That gave me somewhere to start. I went to the thesaurus and it gave me 46 synonyms (shades), but that’s only a beginning. Those gave me other ideas, and I was off, chasing threads of different words, different colors. The line I ended up with was:

Her heart swelled, ponderous with sadness.

I also use the thesaurus to freshen cliches.  I had a young woman with a party-girl BFF. I wanted to freshen the cliche, ‘Walk on the wild side.’ Following threads led me to, ‘Dance on the wild side’.

Sometimes, I let that kid inside to go crazy. This is what she ended up with from one thesaurus session:

His confession stretched on the table between them like a pregnant porcupine – bloated, awkward, and prickly.

Letting that child play is how I find my way back to the joy of writing. And hopefully, I’m entertaining my readers at the same time!

I’d love to see your word play! In the comments, post your original line, then the results after you’ve let that little kid loose!

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